Just the other night, sleepy Hassan comes creeping into my room with tears streaming down his face, saying ‘Mom, I had a bad dream.’
Recognizing that Hassan has a long history of nightmares, I stopped everything I was doing, dried his tears and asked ‘what did you dream about?’ With a tear-filled voice Hassan replied, ‘I dreamt that you died and I had to fend for myself on the streets.’
In that moment, I felt an arrow pierce my heart. Oh at what a young age he faces interior challenges way beyond his years.
Within all of the countless challenges growing up in America, never did I ever wonder, whether I would be on the streets fending for myself with no hope of shelter or food.
Seeing this constant reality surrounding our center and in countless other rural areas, I see how for some street kids sneakiness becomes their trade and thievery their business. Their instinct is telling them to fight for their own survival. They fight for their lives by doing anything they can to stay alive…
This overshadowing veil of darkness that threatens the lives of numerous people does not stop at street kids…it infiltrates the lives of countless families and innocent children with disabilities.
Some days, I’m left sick to my stomach seeing these kids unjustly maltreated. I’ve seen the aftermath of burn marks, skin thrashing, starvation, dehydration, brutality and extreme child abuse that would stir anyone’s feeling heart to the core.
Everyday I look into the eyes of these children and I see hurt. I see sorrow. But I also see a resilient and courageous spirit to keep on smiling.
I simply look in the eyes of these children and say to myself ‘you will make me brave.’
I know when I feel threatened by something its an instinct of mine to retreat. To run away and not allow the pending catastrophe to hurt. To be impenetrable and motionless to those who have hurt me, so that I can still journey through life with a safe and intact heart.
Each one of our existences is tied to others. I firmly believe that these beautiful children with disabilities were created for an inherent and sanctifying purpose.
They affirm in my heart the beautiful truth that in order to defeat the darkness out there, you must defeat the darkness inside of yourself.
The darkness that threatens our own lives takes tremendous courage to combat on a daily basis. I feel this struggle everyday while doing therapy with the children and when educating these mothers regarding the dignity of their child with a disability. My own patience is stripped down to the core.
I often struggle to forgive these caretakers when I know they have beaten their child… left them in the fields for days…and yes, even burned them. However, I’m learning how can I hold bitterness in my heart when these children have already forgiven the one who has abused them.
These conundrum like moments often gets me thinking…Wow! Thats an amazing kind of love.
At the end of the day, I cling to hope. For hope is the virtue that doesn’t remain in the darkness, that doesn’t dwell on the past, but is able to see tomorrow in a brand new light. I wish in my heart, every street child could have a place to call home, every child with a disability could be treated with affectionate care, but I know that through the overarching veil of darkness of today’s conflicts, each and everyone can be a flickering flame of hope in our surrounding world.
A quivering light that possesses the courage to hope is sufficient to shatter this shield of darkness.
This movement begins when one’s heart is moved by compassion and in turn uses their own ears, eyes and hands to reach the cries of others. A single individual is enough for hope to exist, and that individual can be you.